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Back in June someone at Iberia Plus came up with an idea for a promotion that they clearly hadn’t really thought through properly. They may have thought that they had considered all the consequences of the promotion but the fact that it nearly broke the internet is testament to how popular it was….and it was popular because it was ridiculously lucrative.
In brief, towards the end of June Iberia Plus offered 9,000 Avios for every Iberia flight booked by midnight on Sunday 1 July (up to a maximum of 90,000 Avios) and the rules of the promotion left it wide open for abuse.
Here’s what made the promotion special:
- 9,000 Avios were awarded per flight (roundtrip bookings weren’t needed)
- For those of us who didn’t encounter issues with the promotion (quite a few people had a LOT of issues) the Avios posted within 10 – 14 days of making the flight bookings (i.e. before the flights were even taken)
- Iberia Plus confirmed that it would not claw back the Avios from the promotion if participants didn’t turn up for their flights
- Iberia was offering super-cheap short-haul fares within Spain (~€20 – €30) and Iberia Plus confirmed that these counted for the promotion
It was open season for Avios collection and the miles & points collectors went nuts!
I thought the promotion was too good to be true so, for a while, I sat on the sidelines watching the chaos unfold…and then greed got the better of me.
I participated fully in the promotion, earned 90,000 Avios, and booked myself a roundtrip Business Class fare between Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.
Leaving aside the fact that I’m now having second thoughts about this trip this was a fantastic use of Avios and undoubtably a huge headache for Iberia Plus who, try as they might, didn’t succeed in back pedalling as much as they wanted to.
There was, however, one small caveat within the promotion rules that’s particularly important right now.
Spend, Spend, Spend
All Avios earned in the Iberia Plus sale must be used by 30 November 2018 – that’s tomorrow.
Any Avios earned in this promotion that are left sitting in an Iberia Plus account after 30 November will be reclaimed by Iberia.
It’s use them or lose them time!
If you haven’t used your Avios you have two options open to you.
- Find something to use the Avios on before the end of tomorrow (flights, hotels etc…) and get everything booked asap.
- Transfer the Iberia Avios over to the British Airways Executive Club (BAEC)
Option 1 is the best way forward as there are some issues with option 2.
No one really knows how Iberia will deal with people who transfer Avios over to the BAEC to avoid losing them after tomorrow (Iberia can’t touch the Avios if they’re not in an Iberia Plus account) but there’s a strong suggestion that they won’t just sit back and let that happen without consequence.
It has been suggested that any Iberia Plus accounts that are emptied of the promotional Avios via a transfer and not a legitimate booking will have their balances reduced by the number of Avios transferred out. If your Iberia Plus account has a zero balance it will go into negative territory…apparently.
If you don’t think you’ll ever have any further use for your Iberia Plus account having it go into negative territory probably isn’t a big deal to you (so go ahead and transfer away) but serious Avios collectors should be very wary of the risks.
Iberia Plus accounts can be very useful for booking comparatively low-surcharge long-haul redemptions from Europe to the US, South America and Japan and having your Iberia Plus account blacklisted or plunged into negative territory will put you at a serious disadvantage in the future.
Personally I have 5,000 unused Avios left in my account from the promotion and I’m very tempted to transfer them over to British Airways just to see what happens. If my Iberia Plus account goes negative I would transfer them back immediately and hope that all is forgiven but….there’s still a risk that Iberia will decide to get strict and take further action (possibly shutting down my account) and that would be inconvenient.
My own situation will require a bit more thought but my advice to everyone else is this: spend the Avios if you can (it’s really not at all hard) and think very carefully about anything else you decide to do.